Wrightwood 659 Educators serve as conversation partners, providing points of access for guests through their knowledge and keen observations. In these Educator Picks our staff draws attention to a specific object or gallery section to expand on the exhibition and work within.
Louis Sullivan used intricate ornamentation to embellish Dankmar Adler’s profound acoustical engineering in the Garrick Theatre. Pieces of the plaster castings in the decorative frieze were about 2 feet by 3 feet. When Richard Nickel, John Vinci, and David Norris salvaged the elements of the Garrick theatre during demolition in 1961, they discovered thick layers of paint from decades of renovation ranging from muddy pink, cream yellow and charcoal covering the original Sullivan designs. While preserving the ornamentation, they also removed sections of the plaster walls at the request of Crombie Taylor who worked with a small team to take off the surface paint with fine sandpaper in order to reveal the original colors of the hand painted stenciling underneath. In our current exhibition, Romanticism to Ruin, reproductions of the plaster ornamentation and stencils are displayed on the second floor, while documentation of the stencil recovery process is sophistically presented on the third floor.
Over a period of several months, John Vinci and Angela Demma guided Professor William Maryniak and his IIT students—including myself—through a complex modeling of the Garrick Theatre for Wrightwood 659’s exhibition Romanticism to Ruin. The first step in the model making process was to analyze and simplify the recreated Garrick Theatre architectural drawings, made by John Vinci, into drawings that represent the model making materials and the assemblage of the model itself. Once this was completed, the next step was to start to configure study models to understand the joinery of the model, the scale the ornamentation needed to be represented, and which details could be voided to make a cohesive model. At this point an in-person discourse with John Vinci was had to discuss the importance of the Garrick Theatre and the nuanced details of the model itself such as thicknesses of ornamentation, depth to window sills, and diameters of columns. From this point, production on the final model began. Using our simplified drawings, minor adjustments were made to conform to the final model making material, acrylic sheets. Laser cutting and 3D printing began followed by final assembly, sanding, priming, and final coats of paint were applied.
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